Opinion: Primer on car selection, with a political twist

Some will only buy a blue car, since that’s what their parents and grandparents bought. Maybe it’s because it’s the only colour of car in which other members of their tribe will be seen. It doesn’t seem to matter that the performance is sub-standard, flaws are numerous, break downs frequent, and the steering sketchy. Slash a vein and what pours out is the same colour.

Blue car drivers would never be caught dead in an orange car, and they spit on ones painted red. Ride in a green car—that is just for freaks! They are blind to any other colour; however impressive that car might be.

Some colours of cars roar with self-inflicted righteous indignation—others just get on with quietly solving problems and running smoothly. There can be darker shades that verge on extreme fidelity to colour and the rationale for car selection can be just as dark. Sometimes drivers of different coloured cars come to see each other as ideological adversaries and mortal enemies, despite the fact they are driving similar vehicles, going to the same places.

The problem with blind loyalty to one car colour is you can never see what is in the range of new possibilities. There could be a long line of make and model failures. There could be a car that is more trustworthy, has fewer inherent defects, will go the distance (and not drive you into a ditch), and does not rely on old ideas that are well past their best-before date. A new colour of car where you don’t end up with buyer’s regret.

Sometimes under that exterior shiny coat of paint is rust and the whole structure is falling apart because it has never been maintained, upgraded, and invested in new ideas. If you always buy what you’ve always bought, what you always get is what you’ve always got. Some clear-eyed observation might show better options are available in other car colours.

Even a little homework, outside of your own bubble where you aren’t diverted only by colour, might provide some insights about other car choices. Look at the shape, the options, the innovations, and the signs of better engineering with a more objective view. Read the reviews and compare actual performance (not the hype and hyperbole).

Open up the hood and look—is there much there? Listen to the motor—does another colour of car run more smoothly, without stalls, stutters, and squeals? Take it for a test run, without preconceived notions. See how it shifts, how it handles rough roads, and if it fits you and your family needs. Are the seats comfortable, or do they have a hard, uncompromising edge? Ask what you really need in a good, dependable car.

If you are in the position of selecting a new car, here’s some advice—ignore the colour. What you want and need in a car goes deeper than colour. It speaks to substance, integrity, and performance. It’s the same with selecting a political party to vote for and support.

Lorne Fitch is a Professional Biologist, a retired Fish and Wildlife Biologist and a former Adjunct Professor with the University of Calgary.

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